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RCC ranks in top 20 of best online criminal justice degrees across the US

Robeson Community College has been ranked as one of the best schools for online degrees in a public service field by STEPS (Student Training & Education in Public Service). Only 13 percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. earned a spot on the rankings for the 2024 academic year.

Robeson Community College ranked in the top 20 for the best online criminal justice degree, and in the top 50 for best online public service degree among community colleges in the United States.

“Our goal was to identify the best colleges with online degree programs where graduates can make a meaningful difference in their communities through education, public policy, and other career paths,” said Kyle Smith, a community outreach specialist at STEPS.

Public service degrees give students the opportunity to pursue careers where they can support those most in need, both locally and globally. This includes fields such as teaching, social work, public administration, criminal justice, and public health.

“This is excellent news and we are so proud of our faculty and staff who work within the criminal justice program to provide quality instruction to our students,” stated RCC President Melissa Singler. “We knew that our criminal justice program was one of the best and this ranking just verifies what we already knew to be true.”

The criminal justice program at Robeson Community College has been developed to appeal more to those who work full-time jobs.

“We restructured the criminal justice program and made it more user-friendly for the end user,” stated RCC Executive Vice President Eric Freeman.

“We increased access by offering classes completely online,” added Freeman. “We realized that the majority of those enrolled in this program of study are working full-time, most likely in law enforcement, so we have really tailored this program to fit more closely within their schedule and made it more flexible.”

“This ranking proves that our efforts have paid off and it is great to hear that we are hitting a high mark with our criminal justice program and our students,” Freeman said.

This ranking arrives at a time when enrollment in online degree programs remains high. The most recent data (Fall 2021) from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 60 percent of students take at least one class online and 30 percent are enrolled exclusively in online courses.

“As more and more students gravitate towards online education, identifying flexible, affordable, and accredited degree programs that fit into students’ busy lives and make college more accessible is essential,” added Smith.

The criminal justice program at Robeson Community College can be earned 100% completely online, allowing students to continue their education on their own time. 

“Our program is top-notch, giving students opportunities to learn through hands-on experience as well as theory and case studies,” stated Matt Dimery, the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Program Director. “We work hard to ensure our students receive a quality education that provides a solid foundation in criminal justice, and this ranking is a testimony of what we have worked to achieve for our students.”

“Our lead instructor, Heather Monteiro has done a great job leading our adjunct instructors in the program,” Dimery said. “We hear nothing but good things about Heather and our other instructors.”

Completion of the criminal justice program results in an associate of applied science degree, but also offers many certificate options as well, including Basic Law Enforcement Training.

For example, students who successfully complete the in-person, face-to-face, Basic Law Enforcement Training Certificate can receive up to 20 credit hours toward a degree in Criminal Justice at RCC.

“This potentially saves students time and money as they work towards achieving their academic goals to gain skills and knowledge relevant to their profession in law enforcement and criminal justice,” stated Dimery.

Other certificates that can earned within the criminal justice program include a Pathway Certificate, Court Foundations Certificate, Fundamental Principles of Law Enforcement Certificate, and Corrections Essentials Certificate – all of which can be completed online.

“If you’re interested in earning a degree in Criminal Justice, there are several upcoming classes lined up beginning March 11 including Criminal Law, Crisis Intervention, Constitutional Law, Civil Liability, and Correctional Law,” Dimery stated. “None of these classes require pre-requisites, so any and all could be taken regardless of whether you are a new student or a current student.”

The next Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy will be held this summer and begins on May 20. Tuition for the BLET academy is free with a required sponsorship, and financial aid may be available to assist with the cost of fees, uniforms, and books.

“We would love an opportunity to serve more students through our highly ranked Criminal Justice program,” stated Dimery. “If your goal is to become a police officer, deputy sheriff, county detention officer, state trooper, probation or parole officer, correctional officer, loss prevention specialist, or gain knowledge in criminal justice so that you can one day become a lawyer or a judge, and work within the criminal justice system, court system, or legal system, then our program at Robeson Community College is the right one for you.”

Heather Monteiro adds, “If you are already a police officer or a deputy, and you seek to continue your education, a degree from our highly ranked criminal justice program would be a great addition to add to your toolkit.”

To learn more about the Criminal Justice Program at Robeson Community College, please visit




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